Compost To-Go at Atwater Ave Elementary

Ah, the penultimate day of classes is always so bittersweet. The best news was that the weather finally cooperated today, and we could go outside and see what the rain brought. I for one was not so happy to find that our dinosaur kale had gone a little sideways. It may be hard to tell from the photo, but this plant – apparently known as a “collard tree” – used to be upright. After some frantic googling, I found that these trees are easily tipped over by wind, so I took the opportunity to cut it way, way back, so we got some great kale harvest. Plus, now this plant has a better chance than, shall we say, dust in the wind!



The students spent this class building on our trash talk from last week. We spoke before about the difference between trash, recycling, reusing, and compost. Now, the students got to see it in action!

Our young gardeners learned the 4 main composting ingredients: browns, greens, oxygen, and water. The students helped collect browns from our garden – namely, fallen brown leaves on the ground, and old rosemary cuttings I’d been drying out for a month or so. I brought in the greens, and had the utter delight of dishing out weeks of frozen food scraps to an audience of disgusted elementary schoolers – it was definitely worth their response!

Together, we tore up all of the material into tiny little pieces and made layers of greens and browns, two of each. We topped the mixture with a bit of healthy compost to get it started. I also added a plastic utensil, paper cups, and paper towels to complete the experiment. I asked the students to hypothesize what might happen to their compost – will it get bigger, wetter, smellier, or colder? What did they think would decompose first? We had a whole spate of guesses, and I challenged them to record their initial hypotheses and adjust it with further observations.



Each class got to take their compost buckets to-go back to their classrooms. I asked them to bring it back for the final day for a check-up and an updated report of what may be happening!

I’m excited to see what next week will bring, and to hear how the students have been treating their compost!

Until next time,

Ranger Natalie

Natalie Hodson

Natalie is an industrial designer with a passion for sustainability and building. She inherited her mother’s green thumb, and was fascinated with plants from a young age, spending most of her childhood wandering around the woods in Northeastern Ohio. Now, Natalie loves to spend her time wandering around national parks, trying new foods, and building things. She graduated in 2014 from the Rhode Island School of Design and has lived in LA ever since.